With media bombarding our children from a very young age with images of what they think a person’s body should be – raising a body positive child is harder than it was 20 years ago. According to child experts, there are steps that parents can take to ensure their child grows up with a more realistic view of their body’s.
It starts at home
Like all things parenting, the educating of body positivity starts from home. This is perhaps the biggest challenge of all. From a very young age, children watch and learn more from their parents than they do their electronics. Which means if you have body issues, you may be teaching that to your children unintentionally. Dealing with your own levels of body positivity will be the first step in the journey. If you show your children you love your body, they will learn to love theirs.
Watch your language
And we don’t mean you need to crack open the swear jar. The way we talk about things like ours and other’s body’s, food, health and exercise is the foundation of a child’s body positivity. Instead of saying “This cake is so fattening”, say “My health doesn’t really need the extra sugar this cake has”. Replace “I need to go to gym to work off the food”, try “I’m going to the gym to work on my fitness”. Let you language centre around wellness as opposed to body shaming.
Refrain from commenting about other people’s body size – even if done innocently. Instead of saying “Is Sarah the really thin girl in your class?” rather say “Is Sarah the girl that sits behind you?”. This will help your children to focus on who people are rather than what they look like.
What are they watching?
A lot of body positivity and negativity comes straight from your child’s TV or electronic device. While we can’t turn everything off, monitoring what kind of shows they watch will help. This not only helps increase body positivity, but also reduces the impact of stereotypes across the board. Make sure their shows include characters with all different body sizes, races and gender roles. As your child gets older, if you see something they are watching is body shaming, start an age-appropriate conversation about it. “I see they said something mean about that person’s body… how do you think it made them feel? How would you feel? It is wrong to be mean about a person’s body – everyone is perfect the way they are”.
If you start this from an early age, you can change your child’s view of not only their body, but also how they treat others as well.
Toptots Early Learning SA